Since finding out that seahorses tails are square, scientists are researching sea-horses to find out more. The tails of these marine animals have a cross-section that is square, not round or semi-circular as is the case with most animals.
Experts have found that seahorses evolved this way for a smart reason; the square structure of its tail allows the seahorse to be highly flexible and also very strong.
The square shape allows the seahorse’s tail to come back to its former shape very easily after it twists it, when compared to a cylindrical tail. The tail enable the seahorse to crush resistance more powerfully making it a difficult prey.
Scientists are using this information to model robots on the seahorses, they believe they can produce more energy-efficient robots using the seahorses tail as a model.
Robotic systems such as the ones used in surgeries, search and rescue and in the military industry can potentially soon be modeled on the square technology.
Human engineers tend to build stuff that are stiff and not flexible, so they can be controlled easily, but nature produced things just as strong but also flexible enough for them to be maneuvered to do a variety of tasks, said Dr Ross Hatton, from Oregon State University, US, who co-led the research published in the journal Science.
The next generation of robots can be inspired from studying animals.
He added that scientist have found this square architecture provides adequate dexterity and a tough resistance to predators and amazingly forms back to its natural shape very easily.
This technique will prove very useful in designing robots and robotic applications that require strength but also have the ability to bend and twist to fit into tiny spaces. They can be energy-efficient this way.
The doctor said that a robotic device based on the seahorses tail could provide enhanced control and flexibility in keyhole surgeries, making it easier for it to move around organs and bones.
Scientists compared the models of the square structures and cylindrical structures using computer simulations, the results showed that when a seahorse’s tail is crushed its bony plates tend to slide past one another acting as an energy-absorbing mechanism while protecting the central vertebral column. In the end the plates just snap back into their original position without much use of energy.
Researchers concluded that engineers would be provided with great information to build sea-horse inspired technologies for a variety of applications in robotics.
Thus understanding the role of mechanics in these biologically inspired designs is very important for the future of robotics.